Friday, April 14, 2006

Star Buffet and Grill

In the heart of the Pennsylvania Dutch Country’s Lancaster County is the Star Buffet and Grill - another farm country buffet? No, actually, this buffet is Chinese. The Star Buffet and Grill is located on Route 30 east of Lancaster near the Dutch Wonderland amusement park at 2232 Lincoln Highway East. This is a typical Chinese buffet. The food is good and the atmosphere is pleasant.

The price of dinner is $9.95 for adults, Friday to Sunday and $8.85 Monday to Thursday. There are children’s prices and lunch prices are lower. The price does not include a beverage which is $1.00 with refills. You pay when you have finished your meal.

The selection at this Chinese buffet is pretty much like most other Chinese buffet restaurants with the addition of a Mongolian grill. There are four large, double-sided buffet islands in the center of the restaurant and the grill behind a counter on the back wall. In front of the grill is a serving counter with ingredients.

The first buffet island has dessert items on one side and salads and sushi on the other side. Sushi is salmon rolls. There is a bowl of lettuce with toppings and dressings. There is an assortment of Oriental prepared salads including Korean Kim Chi, a hot peppered cabbage, marinated in vinegar. There are cold, peel and eat shrimp here as well.

There are the usual three Chinese soups – wonton, egg drop, and hot and sour soup. The hot and sour soup was spicy but not so spicy with red pepper seeds that it was not edible – as it can be in some places. The soup is found on the second island along with an assortment of dumplings and hot appetizers. The spring roll was crunchy without the soggy consistency that can happen when they sit in a serving tray too long. Fried dumplings were light and not overdone. There was plenty of dumpling sauce nearby. There were also sweet dumplings, steamed rolls, and shumai. There were also fried cheese wontons. There were very, very crispy fried shrimp - very good! This buffet table also had steamed snow crab legs, not whole clusters, but individual legs but there was plenty to take. (I have spoken of crab legs in other articles - take a few at a time, They are much better hot and will crack open with your fingers releasing the entire leg’s meat with a gentle pull. Once they get cool, they are hard to open, become flexible, and the meat sticks to the inside of the shell.) There were many other hot appetizers to be found.

The next island was Chinese entrees including whole, steamed flounder in ginger sauce. There was broiled salmon. There were good, meaty spare ribs, a variety of Chinese vegetable dishes, a good tofu and vegetables dish that was not spicy, the usual pepper steak and chicken with broccoli, salt and pepper shrimp, stuffed clams, stuffed mushrooms, boneless spare ribs, General Tso’s chicken, steamed clams, baked clams, fried rice, lo mein, and on and on. The restaurant’s brochure lists a variety of 50 items offered on the total buffet.

The last island had more Chinese entrees and also American dishes. There was French fries, baked potatoes, mashed potatoes, cheese spinach, crab in cheese, macaroni and cheese, hot dogs rolled in dough, and other entrees. There were very good fried and lightly breaded zucchini slices.

If you had a hard time finding something that you liked on the serving tables you can create what you like at the grill. Here there were raw whole pieces of steak, sliced raw chicken, raw pork, and sliced raw beef. There are a number of raw vegetables and also noodles. You select what you like on a plate, add one of the eight sauces from mild to spicy, and hand the plate to the chef behind the counter. He cooks this on a small, round flat grill – the Mongolian BBQ. After cooking, he plates your creation and hands it to you right there. If you would like just steak you pick your piece and hand it back to cook to order. (A note – rare, medium, well – not much difference in how you get it. Despite this the steak was good and it was tender – no grizzle and no fat.) There is no reason that you cannot find something to enjoy here.

For dessert it was back to the first island where there were the usual Chinese buffet sheet cakes, an assortment of jellos and puddings including a good tapioca. There were jello squares that look creamy and like little cakes. There were fresh fruits, bananas in a strawberry sauce, fruit salad, and cut up melon. There was also a soft serve ice cream machine with creamy – not icy – ice cream.

Beverages are brought to you by your server and she was ready to ask to get you a refill when you needed one. The service is good and dishes were picked up from the table regularly. The silver ware is on your table and a pile of extra napkins are there too. If you want a knife, ask your server and you get one right away. There are shell crackers out for you to take next to the Mongolian counter (next to a microwave that is out toward the public – not sure what that is for, unless you want to make what is already hot, hotter.)

I always say that you can judge a Chinese restaurant by the number of Chinese people eating there and here there were a number of tables with Chinese families appearing to enjoy the food here. This to me is a good sign.

There is plenty of variety to find here. Meat lovers, seafood lovers, and vegetarians will all enjoy this restaurant. There is no website. There are brochures at tourist spots. There may also be coupons in the local tourist publications for discounts. The telephone number is (717) 393- 4866. The hours are Monday to Thursday from 11am to 10:30pm, Friday and Saturday to 11:00 pm and Sunday to 10pm. This is an area where many restaurants close at 8pm and are closed on Sundays. This is a good Sunday night choice if you are looking for all you care to eat. If you are in the area and you are tired of country cooking, then give the Star Buffet and Grill a try.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Food tasted old, dirty, rancid, undercooked, or overcooked. Do NOT eat here! Clams were sandy and metallic. Hairs in sushi! Gross!